Many carcinogens are polluting our food, air, and water. Learning about these pollutants, how to begin avoiding them, plus other healthful changes in our actions can help to prevent breast cancer. NOHA Professional Advisory Board Member Samuel S. Epstein, MD, has co-authored a new book, The Breast Cancer Prevention Program*. The authors point out that we have a rising epidemic of breast cancer. "Since 1960, more than 960,000 American women—double the number of Americans (male and female) who died in World Wars I and II and in the Korean, Vietnam, and Persian Gulf wars combined—have died from breast cancer. . . . Today, one in eight women in the United States will develop breast cancer in her lifetime—a risk that was one in twenty in 1960." In the future, unless we work on prevention, the incidence is expected to rise about one percent per year.

Mr. Jonik has given us permission to reprint this cartoon in NOHA NEWS

The National Cancer Institute (NCI), the American Cancer Society (ACS). and the mainstream media tell us that environmental causes of breast cancer are unknown. They want us to concentrate our attention on early diagnosis, which, of course, is not prevention, because even the tiniest breast lump, found either by self examination or by the highly promoted mammograms, actually already consists of a huge number of cancer cells.

One common link in causing much breast cancer appears to be hormones, including prolactin and various types of estrogen. Certain types of estrogen can promote breast cell division in an uncontrolled manner. Various reproductive decisions can effect out lifetime exposure to estrogen. In an introductory summary the authors list:

The Dirty Dozen: Twelve Common but Unpublicized Risks for Breast Cancer


  • Oral contraceptives. with early and prolonged use
  • Estrogen replacement therapy, with high doses and prolonged use
  • Premenopausal mammography, with early and repeated exposure
  • Nonhormonal prescription drugs such as some antihypertensives
  • Silicone gel breast implants, especially those wrapped in polyurethane foam


  • Diet high in animal fat contaminated with undisclosed carcinogens and estrogenic chemicals
  • Exposure in the home to household chemicals or pollution from neighboring chemical plants and hazardous waste sites
  • Workplace exposure to a wide range of carcinogens


  • Alclohol, with early or excessive use
  • Tobacco, with early or excessive use
  • Inactivity and sedentary life-style
  • Dark hair dyes, with early or prolonged use

This book is a terrific reference. The authors spell out details for all these risks, citing the medical literature and giving specific advice on eliminating or at least reducing women’s risks.

In fact, a wide range of pesticide residues is commonly found in the fatty tissue of almost everyone in the United States and . . . in human breast milk and cow milk.

One interesting quote: "We think Thomas Edison had a bigger effect on the human body than anyone realized. . . . Exposure to near-constant bright artificial light at night (LAN) may increase risks of breast cancer by inhibiting the pineal gland’s secretion of melatonin, a hormone that in turn inhibits estrogen production.

Dietary advice

The authors give fine dietary advice on protective nutrients, including much information on "the breast-protective phytochemicals."

The mainstream media, taking its cues from the NCI and the ACS, plays down the connection between the typical American diet and health. "Focusing on just one small part of the dietary puzzle—the amount of fat we eat—the [cancer] establishment ignores the larger issues of food contaminants and the danger they pose to our health. In this way, [the establishment] protects the interests of the prime polluters of the planet—the petrochemical, pesticide, and pharmaceutical industries, and the powerful cattle lobby—whose representatives sit on its boards and provide funding for its programs."

In regard to fat in our diets, the authors point out that what is in the fat is far more important than the amount of fat:

What the cancer establishment still isn’t telling you is that dietary fat contains a wide range of contaminants—pesticides, other industrial pollutants, and sex hormones known to cause breast cancer and/or to have estrogenlike effects (pseudoestrogens). Other foods may also contain lower levels of these toxic substances. Once in the body, these contaminants tend to accumulate and concentrate in body and breast fat at levels thousands of times greater than in food, thus putting the breast at special risk.

Being overweight is in itself a risk factor: "Estrogen is produced not only by the ovaries and adrenal glands, but also by abdominal fat cells that convert other hormones (particularly testosterone) into estrogen. The more weight a woman carries, particularly around the abdomen, the more estrogen circulates in her body and the higher her risk of breast cancer." Thus, obesity is a major problem but it is caused by consuming more calories than we use, but not necessarily calories from fat.

In regard to the proportion of fat in our diet: "The Harvard Nurses’ Health Study examined the dietary habits of nearly 90,000 women and found no difference in the rates of breast cancer between those who consumed diets containing less than 25 percent of fat and those with diets containing more than 49 percent fat. . . . ‘The popular theory among cancer epidemiologists in the 1980s—that eating fatty foods during adulthood greatly increases breast cancer risk—seems to have bombed out.’"

The authors give five pages listing dietary contaminants that are estrogenic and/or breast carcinogens, also, information on where these chemicals are usually found in our food and water. Most are pesticides.

Pesticides pose special dangers to the food supply. They enter your body primarily through contaminated food, but also by inhalation and/or absorption through the skin. Pesticides are sprayed, powdered, or dropped as pellets in and around places where the general public may walk or engage in recreational activities. In fact, a wide range of pesticide residues is commonly found in the fatty tissue of almost everyone in the United States and . . . in human breast milk and cow milk.

A fine resource guide is given at the end of the book, including several pages with sources of food, grown without pesticides. Unfortunately, the first listing under "Organic Meat," "Coleman Natural Meats" is erroneous. Coleman cattle are given regular, commercial, pesticided feed, so, no way can their meat be thought of as "organic," when by that term we mean food raised without pesticides, as well as without hormones or antibiotics.

The radioactive emissions from nuclear power plants can contaminate nearby pastures. Then milk and cheese from the cows grazing there will contain carcinogenic fission by-products. Several examples are cited, including one where the milk contained "levels of strontium-90, a deadly radioactive isotope, that were higher than levels recorded during the height of nuclear weapons testing."


All women and the men who care about them can profit greatly by having this book. It describes breast cancer causes, giving scientific references incriminating the carcinogens in our environment; then it carefully describes the lifestyle changes that are protective. It also spells out why the cancer establishment does not alert us to the dangers. Actually, huge profits are made producing the carcinogens and also producing the cancer treatments. Sometimes the same industry produces both. In any case, they have interlocking financial interests. Research through the NCI focuses on cancer treatment, not prevention. The actual conflict of interest is dramatized when we see that officers who leave the NCI often obtain highly profitable positions with the multinational cancer-drug manufacturers. Finally, we are told "LEARN ALL YOU CAN—AND GET INVOLVED" and we are given excellent ways to do so!


*Samuel S. Epstein and David Steinman, authors of "The Safe Shopper’s Bible, with Suzanne LeVert, The Breast Cancer Prevention Program: The First Complete Survey of the Causes of Breast Cancer and the Steps You Can Take to Reduce Your Risk, Macmillan, New York, 1997.

Article from NOHA NEWS, Vol. XXIII, No. 1, Winter 1998, pages 6-8.